@#$%!’n Late Blight

tomato, late blight 181-018Short post -I’m itchy and sweaty from working until dusk next to a tree line.  See, I just came back from destroying 30% of my Tomato crop due to an almost certain infection of Late Blight.  I spent this evening tearing out the plants and throwing them onto a 120sq ft rubber mat which I then covered with greenhouse plastic – I love what you can find in farm sheds in a pinch.  This I will let cook for several days to solarize the infected plants, and then I will likely burn the residue.   The burning is prolly overkill – so lets call it revenge…

For reasons I am still pondering it seems to have contained itself to one portion of my tomato crop.  Hypothesis is that this planting of ‘maters was the most suseptible – it was in a sheltered area that did not see much wind at all being between my hoop house and a 20′ tall tree line.  Furthermore, on each side of the tomatoes I had some VERY vigorous three sisters going – 7′ tall corn (no fertilizer!!) and 30′ pumpkin vines about 2’ tall – again further reducing the winds ability to get in.  Why is the wind important?  The dew would linger much longer on this planting allowing any Blight Spores to get a toehold.  That is my theory.

Learnings / Thank Gods (as long as I contained the infection):

  • Seperated plantings – I had 42 tomato plants of 7 varieties total.  Those 42 plantings are in 4 spots – all seperated by at least 1 plant family and 15 yards (I realize I have alot of space)
  • Plant resistant cultivars.  This year I purchased 3 blight resistant potato varieties (Elba, Nicola, Island Sunshine) on a hunch, and out of sheer luck 2 of those are surrounding my infected plants.
  • Walk your fields.  With under .25 acres this isn’t too hard, but get out every week and walk every row with an observant eye.  I watched this infection spread in growing horror for 4 days until I was convinced it was Late Blight – and maybe – just maybe – contained it in my tomatoes before it got into my spuds.

This infection cost me about 200#’s of tomatoes, but fingers crossed that my  scorched earth actions tonight are enough to hold it to my 12 martyrs.


6 Responses

  1. Seems to be a common story at the moment, either side of the Atlantic – I was just reading about ferme de sourrou’s tomato blight woes yesterday. Hope that this gives you some comfort.


  2. Also
    don’t count harvest before $ in hand of farmer
    don’t skimp on crop rotation
    don’t grow too many crops in one family/susceptible to one ind of “bad” weather

  3. its been early blight here that has wrecked almost a third of my maters. And they are in the most exposed area on my property. There is even a white wall on the north side of them. This wet weather has been ridiculous. Makes me wish I was a cranberry farmer.

  4. My sympathies, truly. If it hits your potatoes, be sure to check my blog for a possible salvage method for the tubers. My plants are gone, but I’m digging for the spuds as I want to eat them. So far, so good. Small potatoes is better than no potatoes.

  5. James – sorry to hear it is so widespread and thanks.

    EJ – sound advice, though Late Blight spores can travel dozens of miles via wind so rotations is of little use.

    Kory – The Wet out East is bad news all around (See below) – sorry for your troubles!

    Kate – I have read your post and it was high on my thoughts for salvage measures. I am having some difficulty telling normal potato die back as they suck energy into the tubers and the onset of Blight. Hopefully the Ag Extension people can help me on that. Agreed – baby potatoes are a luxury, right?

  6. Why keep any tomato plants at all? Won’t they harbor spores for next year?

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